Rigor Mortis is a new project
focusing on all things horror, but especially zombies.
Here is a sample from Issue #2:
Rigor Mortis #2
| BOO! [cut] Now Say “Boo” Again, but Really Scary
A Look at Reality Paranormal Shows
As a child, I loved being scared by the paranormal. I tuned in for “In Search Of”, read The Amityville Horror and watched Poltergeist. Hell, I even remember the parapsychology episode of “Charles' Angels”. That shred of plausible truth was enough to attract and terrify me.
As it turns out, Grim Pickens was exactly the same kind of weird kid. In fact, we had many of the same paranormal-related books when we got together. Our list of dream occupations includes parapsychologist (and marine biologist - SyFy Saturday here we come!). When we began noticing ghost shows popping up on television, we were slowly drawn in; we wanted to believe. We wanted to be scared again.
While the rest of the country votes on “American Idol” or quotes “Seinfield” with biblical accuracy, we sit in the dark week-after-week growing more opinionated about reality shows about ghosts. We armchair quarterback spectral investigations we would never want to be part of. If we ask our 3-year-old, “It's Friday, what's on tonight?”, he will dutifully answer, “Goofy Ghosthunters!” We have caught him trying to plug headphones into the computer to play “Ghost Hunters”. We recognize we are not model parents, no need to send hate mail.
The following are our current favorite shows. Please know that all criticisms are given in that really irritating way of true fans (and send swag, we'll wear it!).
The early episodes of “Ghost Hunters” (GH) were forgettable, but Sci-Fi (now SyFy) knew it had something with Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, two Roto-Rotor plumbers from Rhode Island. Slowly the production values increased, as did their paranormal detection equipment. Theoretically, they go into homes and haunted locations looking to debunk the hauntings. There have been accusations of chicanery, but we don't tune in expecting to really see anything. It is usually a bunch of guys, and a couple girls, wandering around in the dark with cameras and then spending hours in cheap motels listening to and watching what they recorded. No, we tune in to speculate about the speculators. Is Jason a bully? What paranormal experience did Grant have that he won't talk about? Do they get paid every time they say Roto-Rotor? Grim and I have an ongoing debate about Brian vs. Steve. He feels sorry for dorky investigator Brian Harnois, while I find him annoying. On the other hand, Grim finds tattooed tech manager Steve Gonsalves cocky and passive-aggressive. While I can't disagree with that assessment, there is something about his multitude of phobias (bugs, spiders, flying) that just makes him a great big wus. My biggest pet peeve is the staged set-up at the end of the investigation that always seems to take place between Jason and Grant in their SUV and ends with them bumping fists. I keep hoping one of them will take a form of a mop bucket or something.
“Ghost Hunters” knew they had a good thing going and decided to expand the franchise with “Ghost Hunters International” (GHI). They used some of the same cast from “Ghost Hunters”, but brought on a bunch of new people. The first series offered the best and the worst of the cast - we both agree that Irish-born Barry Fitzgerald is our favorite and actually shows some common sense. I mean, duh, why would a 500-year-old ghost in Romania respond to questions posed in English? On the flipside, we cringed every time we saw Andy Anderson, or as we liked to call him, Dinky Dinkerson. He made Brian Harnois look suave.
Watching a recent episode, team leader Rob Demerast was startled by a loud noise and appeared to be prepared to punch a ghost. This led to speculation that our theory that Rob was a Domino's Pizza manager was wrong and that he was in fact a bouncer at Hooters. And why does Brandy Green look like a 13-year-old hooker while they drive around reading stilted exposition about the upcoming investigation? What the fuck is up with that backwards, upside-down golf visor that Dustin Pari wears? Please tell me it is a signal to your grandfather or something and you don't really dress like that. So yeah, they look for ghosts in cool places -- but again, it is a lot of the same.
The first time I saw an episode of “Ghost Adventures” (GA) I was home alone. They were goofy, fratboy douchebags. It was like watching a litter of Labrador retrievers sniffing around phantom crotches. BUT, their investigations seemed to come up with results and they had interesting interviews with locals. They have nailed the spooky factor a few times. If there was a drinking game for GA and you had to drink each time they said “Dude! Dude! Dude!” you'd be passed out before the show was over.
I can't explain it, but lately GA has been surpassing GH in my affections. As a Travel Channel show they don't have nearly the budget that GH or GHI does; it is just the three of them with cameras double-dog daring each other. Maybe that is part of it - GH and GHI have film crews that you know are there, but with GA the only people there are interacting. They tend to visit public locations with reports of angry spirits and like to provoke them. Oh, and occasionally they scream like girls and run away -- that is also probably part of it. And Zach, if you are reading this, what's up with the hair?
“Paranormal State” (PS) is a group of investigators from Penn State University. Think “Scooby Doo” if it were produced by A&E. They tend to take cases where individuals or families are in some form of spectral distress. At times the show is just too polished and melodramatic. There is also more direct use of religion, spirituality, and psychics with investigations, so they fill in gaps otherwise unknown on the other ghost shows. The editing is usually tight and they do a good job mounting tension and making the dark scary.
I would love to have the guy that narrates “A Haunting” just sitting around the house talking about stuff. I mean, he makes everything sound so ominous. This Discovery show is an hour-long reenactment of ghost (and demon) encounters, with commentary from the people who actually experienced it. Some of the stories are downright chilling. The best part is that it often airs in the afternoon while Garnet naps. I get a break from all the fucking chirping cartoon animals and get to watch real people being possessed for an hour or two.
All the cool kids have crushes on the young male studs on GH, GHI, GA, and PS, but not me - I have a thing for Chip Coffey, the medium featured on “Psychic Kids” (and sometimes “Paranormal State”). There is something about his voice and manner that could probably keep me from pissing myself if I saw something that went bump in the night. This show features children who see dead people, and Chip often helps them come terms with their abilities. Despite the premise, this can be creepy when you hear the kids explain all the things they can see that are invisible to the people around them.
So network executives, if you are reading this, Mondays are taken by “Paranormal State”, Wednesdays belong to “Ghost Hunters”, and Fridays we have a standing date with “Ghost Adventures”. Can you please come up with something for Tuesdays and Thursdays so we don't have to sit though the same episodes of “Family Guy” again?